Fatigue Dangers Are Highlighted during Drowsy Driver Prevention Week
We all know about the dangers of drunk driving. However, fatigue can be just as hazardous on the roads of Virginia. The National Sleep Foundation is highlighting the risks of sleep deprivation over Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.
Events have been held from Nov. 4 to Nov. 11 to highlight the risks of driving fatigued. The NSF is encouraging all drivers to take a pledge against drowsy driving. At the same time, it is urging legislators to look seriously at the issue of lack of sleep.
Every year, our Virginia Beach injury lawyers help the victims of drowsy drivers. Many accidents are caused by fatigued truckers who have been on the road all night. The injuries they cause are often horrific.
Drowsy driving leads to impaired driver ability to focus on the road ahead and stay alert because of a lack of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation pledge is intended to increase awareness of the many dangers of drowsy driving.
The foundation reminds drivers to:
- Ensure they get 7-9 hours sleep every night;
- Never drive if they have been awake for more than 24 hours;
- Make regular stops for short naps if they are on a long trip;
- Drink coffee or other drinks containing caffeine.
Drowsy Driver Prevention Week is a great opportunity to highlight the hazards of sleep deprivation on the road. A few years ago, the NSF released model legislation, the Drowsy Driving Reduction Act of 2015 which was meant to assist states in their drowsy driving prevention efforts. Although all states have laws that target drunk drivers, there is a widespread lack of drowsy driver legislation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) has published federal hours of service regulations but these only apply to the drivers of commercial vehicles and buses.
David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation, said:
“Drowsy driving is a public safety issue that needs to be addressed. We believe the public can help decrease drowsy driving and improve the safety of our roads by taking the Pledge, contacting local legislators to support drowsy driving prevention efforts, and establishing a routine that fights fatigue and supports a healthy sleep lifestyle.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving results in 1,550 deaths every year in the United States. Tiredness causes 71,000 injuries and more than 100,000 accidents every year.
A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found drivers age 16-24 were nearly twice as likely to be involved in a tired driving crash as drivers age 40-59. Almost 60 percent of drowsy driving accidents involved the driver drifting into other lanes or even off the road.
According to the National Safety Council, driver’s reaction times, awareness of dangers, and ability to sustain attention deteriorate with sleep deprivation.
Driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent – the U.S. legal limit. You are three times more likely to be in a car crash if you are fatigued
Alarmingly, many drivers don’t even realize that they are tired. They may experience micro-sleep, a short, involuntary burst of inattention. Micro-sleep of less than 5 seconds can equate to a vehicle traveling the length of a football field if the driver is driving at highway speed. In other words, even small episodes of nodding off at the wheel are more dangerous than drivers believe.
Drowsy Driver Prevention Week – Tips to Stay Awake at the Wheel
- Never drive if you have had any alcohol to drink, or are taking a medication that may cause sleepiness. Use drugs for ailments like colds that won’t make you drowsy.
- If you are on the road and feel yourself getting sleepy, don’t rely on the radio, coffee, an open window, a passenger, or other tricks to keep you awake. Instead, pull over, take a nap, and later try consuming caffeine to help increase alertness. If you have someone else in the car, ask them to take over the driving.
- Before long drives, always get a good night’s sleep. Set out early and travel with a friend if possible.
Drowsy Drivers and Virginia Personal Injury Claims
If you are hit and hurt by a drowsy driver, you have a good case to make a personal injury claim. The at-fault driver may not always admit he or she was sleepy. This information may be discovered by a police officer at the scene. However, it may take an investigation by a personal injury lawyer to discover if the driver suffered from sleep apnea, had been on the road for hours on end, or had another medical condition like diabetes that led to drowsiness. Call our Virginia Beach personal injury team at (757) 455-0077 for a free consultation.